For the last two weeks I've had an uninvited guest in my Brussels sprouts. I searched the leaves and hunted for bugs, worms, moths, rats — anything! Finally I found my evidence of what was snacking on my tasty greens. Do you know what a cabbage worm is? I do now!My small pot garden sits atop my double flight of stairs on a ridiculously windy hill. So windy, in fact, it's known to blow tomatoes and peppers right off the plant! Because of this, it took me much longer to diagnose the disappearing Brussels sprout leaves.
I didn't see any of the usual signs of common intruders. There weren't larvae left behind, no eggs, no insects or animals, I really had no idea where to turn. I Googled like anyone else would, but without seeing the actual intruder, it was still a guessing game. That was until one day, still frustrated, I came across small dark green balls scattered across the soil below the plants. I hadn't noticed them before but they were the evidence that I needed!
This image from The Funny Farm shows both the worm and the worm poop that act as indicators.
Although I still hadn't seen anyone snacking on my garden goods, these small green balls (about the size of pellet gun ammo) were indicators of Cabbage worms. Because of our windy hilltop home, the larvae that the cabbage worm leaves behind had blown away, as had the worm poop it usually leaves on the leaves. It had blown off, but on this day it had just blown down.
Cabbage worms snack on more than just Brussels sprouts. They also enjoy collards, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, turnips, radishes, mustard greens, and rutabaga. So what's the cure for these little buggers? Well simply put... death. They won't hurt you, just pull them off and squish them or cut them in half. Just tossing them in your neighbors yard isn't good enough as they'll just come right back. For low cabbages, you can place pantyhose over them to help deter their attachment, but you do run the risk of your produce looking like it's going to rob a liquor store.
Do you have a pest in your garden? Send us pictures and we'll help you figure out what's eating Gilbert's Grape, or at least your tomatoes!
(Image: Sarah Rae Trover, The Funny Farm)